San Diego HS adopts college readiness program

Chris White began his role as the Director of College Advising in the fall of 2002 when he advised 50 students from the first graduating class of High Tech High School (HTH) in San Diego, California.

White admits his former system was not technical. “In the past, I would keep all my information in Microsoft Access, but I needed to keep up with the constant changes.” In order to meet HTH’s growing needs, the school purchased Naviance.

HTH has expanded to 5 campuses serving 2,450 students in grades 9 through 12. With the expansion, HTH’s use of Naviance has expanded as well. “Naviance has become more than a college advising tool, it has become a tool for our whole team to use to help our students be successful,” said White.

Internships play a vital role in the HTH philosophy of providing real life experiences to students. Juniors complete a 3-week academic internship in a local business or agency. To provide guidance to the HTH consortium juniors, White created a program within Success Planning called Internship Preparation to help students prepare for their mandatory internship.

He assigns students four tasks: Create a Resume, Complete the Do What You Are® personality assessment, Build a Career list, and Fill out Career Interest Profiler. The assigned tasks appear automatically in the student's Tasks Assigned to Me page in Family Connection, the student and family portal that comes with Naviance. Teachers can monitor students’ progress and can target those who need more guidance and encouragement.

“The resume tool is fantastic. It provides students a non-intimidating approach to something that is hard for students to understand, ” said White.

Students build their resumes in Family Connection with assistance of the Resume Builder, which has multiple categories to help students document their achievements, including: summary statement, volunteer experience, references, education history, and additional information. Students can also review quick tips on building a resume.

HTH added the Learning Style Inventory (LSI) to help freshmen students reflect on their strengths and weakness to become better advocates for their academic needs. Students complete an online survey and receive feedback on more than twenty areas affecting how they learn. Counselors, teachers, and other educators can review those results for each student.

One of White’s goals is to ensure his students are accountable for their career and college exploration. As a best practice, he strongly encourages students to use Family Connection to organize their college application information by saving journal entries for each college. Teachers also reinforce this practice by reminding students to enter information into Family Connection and monitor their progress.

In addition to White's working with students, he also has teachers’ support. Some teachers incorporated creating resumes as a part of their course curriculum. After the term, White runs a Student Completion Report in Naviance and emails the results to teachers.

HTH’s recent National Student Clearinghouse® data suggest that its model has been successful: 87 percent of students enrolled in college during the first year after high school and 42 percent of 2005 HTH graduates earned a bachelor’s degree. HTH internal data show that 99 percent of graduates enrolled in college and 60 percent earned a degree.

“Naviance provides students with tangible tools which inspire kids to achieve success and show [them] a variety of possibilities based on their input,” said White. “When a student sees the scattergram and understands the possibilities of college, that is very powerful.”